Overall it's one of my favorite conventions. It's very relaxed but I always make a decent profit there, so it's a perfect balance for me.
The convention center itself is a little weird as far as layout goes, and can be annoying to navigate for load-in, but that's not the convention's fault. Ever since the new parking garage that's attached to the con center opened up, I think setup and tear down will improve dramatically. I enjoy the downtown Columbus area (I really love North Market across the street. Sadly, because of AA hours, it's hard to go for dinner.)
The artist alley staff is amazing. I have not interacted much with the rest of the staff, but the AA team is great all around.
I know some people dislike the balcony area, but I find it very peaceful and enjoy it. I get the impression that a lot of people who make their way up there are specifically looking for art. However, I can totally see how people at the ends of the balcony might not get great traffic.
Attendance is good and pretty consistent in my experience. It is not a HUGE con, but it is a great mid-sized con with some dedicated art-buyers that I see every year!
This is also one of my most affordable conventions, largely because I don't stay in a hotel downtown. I usually drive a small distance for a much more affordable hotel. The tables are inexpensive as well. Columbus is a pretty affordable city as far as conventions go.
Overall, definitely one of my favorite conventions!
Aside from that, other artists were kind and friendly, staff was wonderful and the attendees were kind. The venue was great, and the hotel was awesome.
Tables were only 6ft long with a SHIT TON of space between them. Enough that con-goers often uses them as quick paths which I was not a fan of. I don't think it was clearly advertised how much space we'd get because I would have brought an extra table and a mannequin to display apparel on if I would have knowns. I really recommend that the con get at least 8ft tables so that 1) displays are less squished and 2) that space is better utilized.
Artist alley was shoved off to the left side, not really near the main entrance of the hall. I don't always expect aa to be front and center of course, vendors pay a ton more for their spots, but it was so far to the left and so stretched out (only really two long skinny rows) that people on the far left got way worse business and traffic since there was nothing to draw people over there other than con swap (which is never a huge draw at any con).
We were told we had to be 100% original, but there were quite a few people that got away with art containing copyrighted material or were selling fanart "under the table". This was kind of annoying since it was supposed to be an original art con. If your original art doesn't sell, maybe don't apply to ohayocon? It just leaves a sour taste in my mouth since there were 100% original artists that were dying to be taken off the waitlist. The staff needs to be a bit more observant but not much else can be done without having them also stalk social media, which would be a bit ridiculous. It didn't hurt my sales at all, but just something I thought I'd note.
The staff were okay, Emily was pretty helpful but the rest didn't do very much at all so I can't really say anything good or bad.
Friday- Slowest day of them all, but I think that's pretty typical. Mostly people scoping out the alley and deciding who to come back to on Sat and Sun. It was pretty dead for the first 2 hours but then picked up a bit.
Saturday- Great! Met lots of fans and had lots of people stop by the booth. Sales we only slow in the morning before noon (people have to wake up!) but were consistent the rest of the day.
Sunday - My best day. This was the day people bought the most large purchases (like $60+ per transaction). Lots of returning customers from earlier in the weekend and people that had stopped by 5+ times over the weekend to browse and say hi. There was no "mad last hour dash" like I typically see, but people knew Sunday was the last day and didn't want to risk me selling out.
As for what sold- I was pretty evenly split which was surprising. I sell apparel, prints, charms, and some other small items and while shirts technically did the best overall, it was only by a very small margin. I was pleasantly surprised since I thought original art would mean apparel would be the only thing to make money.
Generally people were very sweet. Creepers were few and booth barnacles even less. I met a lot of people genuinely happy at seeing my art and even if they stayed a minute to talk it wasn't painful or awkward like I've had at other cons. I made a pretty fair amount that made the commute from out of state worth it. I will say that artists at this con were SO SWEET. I've never had a con where I felt as welcomed and part of a community as I did here. I think the original art only made artists feel more vulnerable and open. I'm hopeful I've gained a few decent mutuals/acquaintances through this con.
Layout and attendance given 4/5 but those are N/A. I know the venue is very nice and the price tag isn't bad.
There was NO fanart allowed, including anything copyrighted/trademarked, UNLESS it was A) commission artwork, or B) purely parody in the artist's own style. I felt that made the whole air feel very friendly and without competition. There was a huge variety in crafts included which was awesome. The jurying process for the show was done very well and without bias from what I would tell. I will definitely be applying again for next year's show.
As a bonus, I also got an autograph from the very sweet Monica Rial when she was briefly in the AA on Saturday, for my friend who is a huge fan and wants to also be a voice actor someday. The whole weekend was just very friendly!
Unfortunately a lot of the crowd was young teens, many of whom didn't have the best manners, and not many young adults/20-somethings, it hiked right up to middle age and older. I felt like that meant a lot of the crowd didn't have much money they had or wanted to spend.
Thankfully the AA wasn't part of the construction on the Hyatt. I have always loved the venue, and hope it will improve with all of the work they are doing on it! There was an issue where the escalators were broken on Sunday, and many of us were worried about sales as a result. However, the issue was resolved very quickly, and before the AA opened!
I was up against the glass side of the room, and it was bit shaky (I had a tall booth, which meant my grids were shaking the entire time anyone was in the room, but they never fell over, so that's a plus!) The b biggest issue I faced with the layout was that one of our neighbors never showed (and the table was never sold). Due to the location (aka the view from the AA of the Dealer's Room), we had a lot of trouble with people coming behind the empty table (and, therefore, into our space) to take pictures/look over despite not being allowed to do so. The AA head even put up chairs, and pulled the table out to try to deter people, and people still moved/climbed over the chairs. We felt awful for her, and tried to keep people out by blocking the table, but no matter what we did, people still came back behind our table. It was really only a problem because, obviously, all of our valuables (lockbox, whatnot) were behind the table with us, so we had to be very careful about it. Otherwise, the layout is very nice, and I hope con-goers will understand why they aren't allowed behind the tables in the future!
This is the most I have ever made at a convention before in terms of profit, and we also stayed at a hotel down the street, so we saved quite a bit of money on the room.
Overall, the convention was fantastic, and staff was amazing!
Hotel: We stayed in the Hyatt Regency that was connected to/part of the convention center. It was a very nice hotel, the elevators were of course crowded during the con, but not as bad as other cons I've been to. Sharing with 4 people the hotel ended up only being about $150 per person for 4 nights so not bad. One of the problems we had was the hotel bar, because drunk people were everywhere and our next door neighbors were being loud and shouting until 6am. We had to call the front desk twice before they got reasonably quiet. There were also a lot of people wandering around with cups of beer in the convention itself which was kind of odd.
Food: There's a Bruegger's Bagels that no one apparently knew about because it was never swamped even when it was morning on Saturday. So we always had good coffee and brekky very quickly, no lines. North Market is just up the street, and it's this great indoor market with lots of stalls. A couple really great bakeries (one had macarons!) and some great affordable lunch especially if sharing with a friend. The convention center also has what is basically a mall food court, with Asian-style places, pizza, the works. So if you don't have time to go outside you can still get food. A little expensive but not going to break the bank. If you end up with enough money to splurge there's a great burger joint right across the street from the con center that has crazy things like elk and boar burgers. It was amazing. Don't bother trying to get delivery to the hotel. All of the delivery places had terrible ratings and the one Chinese takeout place we finally settled on because we were so hungry was super salty and not good.
Artist Alley: They artist alley is set up very differently from other cons I have been to. It's fairly small and overlooks the dealer’s room. I have a terrible sense of direction so I had a hard time finding the alley. My friend had better luck with navigating the hallways. They had dots on the floor to navigate con-goers to different areas, but I didn't see any for the artist alley. I think it could have benefited with some signage pointing the way throughout the convention. You only ended up in the AA if you really wanted to find it, which means we missed out on random wanderers more than we would have at other cons. That said the setup was really nice. We had a 6-ft table with about 2-3 feet between tables so we didn't have to skootch out from behind a bunch of other people to get out. It also meant we could pop out from behind the table and talk to people without it being weird, and restock/organize the table. Our table was right against the glass overlooking the dealer’s room so it was pretty neat to be able to see all the people milling about down there. I had very low stock for this con so I didn't do so well. I think if I had had more variety of things I would have done better. My friend did very well, made back all expenses (including hotel, table, and flight) and then made about $1000 over that, which for us is pretty good.
Overall a very nice con, lots of people from all over, especially college and high school crowd. I would definitely go again.